When a child observes their parents or other loved ones suffering from some sort of addiction during their formative years, it can have ramifications on the rest of their lives. Children that live with substance abusers and other addicts are more likely to be involved in child abuse or other domestic violence in the home, so it is imperative that addicts with children in their formative years receive help and support to break free from their addiction and repair the damage to their relationships with children and other loved ones. In fact it is recommended to seek an drug treatment program that will provide services to eradicate the behavior. It is also recommended that children are informed about what is happening with the parent and explain what addiction means.
Children are like sponges they soak up the elements in their environment. Consequently every occurrence will directly impact them so much so that they may begin to act out when the opportunity presents itself. Lifelong patterns of behaviors and personality traits tend to be formed early in a child’s life and continue as children grow older. However they may have lost trust in communicating with adults so getting them to open up at first may be a challenge.
Children tend to act out in ways that mimic or mirror the behaviors and occurrences which they witness and they may be hard to control if given a long period to incubate. Often children are considered unaware because they are quiet or cannot speak but they are more intelligent than they are ascribed to be.
They are very inquisitive and they observe well. When they are old enough to speak they are able to verbalize their feelings. It is important to advise children that they are not the cause for the parent being removed or them being removed from the parent. Children need to know that there is help for the parent and that they will return as soon as they successfully complete the program.
When intervention occurs later in adolescence, children may have acquired so many problems that they will need intervention to help them cope with their thoughts and actions. In fact they could possibly develop psychological and emotional problems that will require treatment in order for them to function properly in life.
According to studies children who have lived in the home with an adult who has an addiction tend to report symptoms similar to children who have been physically abused. The may often take on characteristics that are beyond their years like being very responsible or not responsible at all. Parents who have an addiction can be very critical of everything a child does. As a result they become overly responsible in their personal and professional lives to avoid being criticized. They may also work very hard for compliments.
At times these attributes can be manageable but being that they are misplaced they may be acted out in peculiar or irresponsible ways and at inappropriate times. Family counseling is a good method for involving family members who are troubled or indifferent about their loved ones’ whereabouts and their well being.
Depending on the level of exposure to the addiction, children will have many questions to ask in order to understand why their parent did to leave and if they did something to make them go. At times a child may have exaggerated feelings and fear of abandonment throughout their lives because of this. Children of addicted parents will thrive best through receiving frequent and constant counseling and encouragement.